MP REPORT: An Expansion to Canada’s Student Grants Program

Dan Albas is the Member of Parliament for Okanagan-Coquihalla and writes this weekly report for his constituents.

Okanagan-Similkameen MP Dan Albas.

Okanagan-Similkameen MP Dan Albas.

For this week and next the House of Commons will not be sitting as MPs have two weeks to spend back in home ridings prior to the final stretch that save for one week, will see the House of Commons sitting until late June.

It is more than simply the weather that serves as a stark contrast to subjects of importance in Okanagan-Coquihalla compared to those that tend to dominate discussion in Ottawa. One subject that is of importance and is also widely supported beyond partisan interests is the importance of education and skills training to enter the workforce. The subject of skills shortages is an ongoing one much as is the need for jobs and employers who require skilled workers.

Earlier this week I was honoured to join our Prime Minister at an announcement to expand and increase student grants programs. For those who are unfamiliar with student grants, this is direct, non repayable financial assistance available to low and middle income students who are enrolled in an educational program. The program announced this week will be available in 2016 and will provide grant assistance to programs with a minimum duration of 34 weeks.  Currently to qualify a program must be a minimum duration of 60 weeks. Including shorter duration programs that are often accessed by those seeking to upgrade skills can help eliminate a barrier to entering the workforce. Shorter term educational programs may also appeal to some younger workers who require specific skills to enter more lucrative work environments.

Closer to home this week I also attended an announcement with Fraser-Nicola MLA Jackie Tegart in Princeton to announce long overdue safety upgrades to Highway 3 just west of Princeton. The project in question will eliminate two very sharp curves over a five km section of Highway 3. This important project is estimated to cost roughly $10.3 million and is funded through the Building Canada Major Infrastructure fund. The Similkameen Valley is an emerging and growing destination in southern B.C. and improved infrastructure that is safer will benefit local residents, industry and small business along with a growing tourism sector.

As there is still one more week remaining before the House is back in session I would like to invite citizens of Okanagan-Coquihalla to give me a call. As always I welcome your comments and questions and can be reached via email at dan.albas@parl.gc.ca or 1-800-665-8711. Also a reminder that occurring later this month on April 21 our Canadian Minister of Finance, the Hon. Joe Oliver, will introduce our Government’s 2015 budget, a subject I will cover in a future MP report.

Dan Albas is the Member of Parliament for Okanagan-Coquihalla and writes this weekly report for his constituents.